10 Best Music Cities



Portland, OR

Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, OR

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo: Boone Speed

Portland, OR, began making its name for music in the '60s, and while the 1980s proved to be a prominent decade for the city's punk scene, today the city is best known for its indie rock influence. Slate magazine has called Portland “America's Indie Rock Mecca,” which is no surprise considering the bands that have emerged from its scene: The Decemberists, Blitzen Trapper and the Dandy Warhols, to name a few.

It's the great venues and community connectedness that draw music lovers to Portland. Smaller venues provide excellent places for performers and audiences to really engage, like Doug Fir Lounge, the only venue its size (accommodating less than 300 people) in the city designed specifically for live music. Its intimate vibe, '50s-style décor, original woodwork and glass designs, coupled with state-of-the-art sound equipment, has helped Doug Fir earn high praise.

Aladdin Theater, which was a 1920s vaudeville house, now is a premier spot for medium-sized shows. The theater seats 620 people, an accommodating yet still cozy environment for fans and musicians. Past performers at the Aladdin include Macy Gray, Lucinda Williams, and Beck.

The Roseland Theater and connected Peter's Room offer space for larger concerts and showcase 150-180 shows annually. Roseland holds approximately 1,400 people for standing-room only shows for performances by acts like Pearl Jam and Prince. In the adjoining 400-seat Peter's Room, which has showcased artists like John Mayer and The Strokes, fans can watch the show streamed on screen while enjoying dinner and drinks.

When it comes to record shopping in Portland, Jackpot Records is a favorite. Not just a record store, Jackpot is also an indie record label that has reissued works from The Wipers, Jandek, The New Dawn and others. The business often hosts all-ages, in-store shows, signings, meet and greets, and an annual film festival that focuses on music-related cinema.  

Artists with Portland ties: The Kingsmen, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Courtney Love, M. Ward, The Decemberists, Blitzen Trapper, The Dandy Warhols, Everclear, Crazy 8s

Cool record stores: Jackpot Records, 2nd Avenue Records, Everyday Music, Mississippi RecordsCrossroads Music, Green Noise Records

Fun fact: Portland is home to You Who, which was created by Decemberists' guitarist Chris Funk and his partner, Seann McKeel, in cooperation with McMenamins. Taking place once a month, You Who is a children's show that features variety entertainment and a live hip hop, rock or dance band.

Click here to see more photos of Portland and read about many of its great things to do, see and eat.

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